Notts Outlaws secured their place in the NatWestT20Blast quarter-finals with a six-wicket win over Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.
The Outlaws are through with a game to spare and assured a home quarter-final after a solid all-round display but Birmingham have work still to do to reach the last eight.
After their fourth defeat in five North Group games, the Bears must now win their last match, away to Lancashire Lightning next Friday, to be sure of going through.
Put in, Birmingham accelerated after a slow start to amass 172 for two, built around a stand of 116 in 79 balls from Ian Bell (80, 55 balls) and Will Porterfield (61 not out, 44 balls).
Notts’ chase was given a sound platform by Michael Lumb (34, 25 balls) and Rikki Wessels (37, 28 balls). Dan Christian (37, 23 balls) kept up the momentum and Greg Smith (52 not out, 31 balls), improvising brilliantly, saw them home with five balls to spare.
Birmingham made a sedate start with the first three overs yielding 11 singles and five dot balls. Bell upped the ante with two sixes in four balls from Harry Gurney and Jake Ball but the latter struck back by trapping Sam Hain lbw.
Birmingham reached halfway on only 66 for one, Samit Patel having bowled three overs for 20 and, as Bell and Porterfield sought to accelerate, the spinner returned to deliver the 15th over for just three off the bat.
Bell reached his half-century from 42 balls with four sixes and, curiously, no fours and Porterfield followed to his from 37 balls (four fours, two sixes) and their stand equalled the Bears’ T20 second-wicket record, (116, set by Jim Troughton and Darren Maddy against Northants Steelbacks at Edgbaston in 2010) before Bell chipped Harry Gurney to mid-on. Porterfield ended with an unbeaten 61 but, with quite a short boundary on one side, it was a target that Notts fancied.
Wessels, dropped on seven by Bell at mid-off off Rikki Clarke, and Lumb added 74 in 52 balls before both perished in three balls from Keith Barker, Lumb blazing to extra-cover and Wessels hoisting to mid-off.
Tight overs from Clarke and Jeetan Patel kept Birmingham in the game and Notts started the last six overs needing 61 but Christian made a big dent in the required rate with two sixes and a four off Ateeq Javid and Smith timed the pursuit to perfection to take his side over the line with a 30-ball half-century.